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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 10-13-05, 10:53 PM   #1
meb
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Recomendations on winter commuting bike:
6-7 mile commute, 2/3 bike trails, I have subway options in the extreme blizzard conditions.
Probably will go with studded tires.

Candidates:
Folder with 305 wheels. Shorter fall, I have many extra 305 knobbies I could get stud kits for, my folder is a cheapie so salt damage is a don't care.
Electric with 559 wheels, RWD electric.
Mountain bike using a convention RWD system.
Mountain bike using AWD wheelset. The AWD wheelset could not be used with anything other than the MTB.
Road bikes.
Attaching a Schwinn Town & Country Trike rear end to a recumbent using 406 tires to make a delta recumbent.
The Town & Country rear end could be mounted to several of the other bikes rear, but is not usable in conjunction with the RWD electric or the AWD. It also may be mountable to the front of some to create a Newton/Welsh Trike style of upright tadpole.

My past experience is that the electric motor frees up the legs to help keep the bike upright on ice.
2 wheel recumbents are disasters on ice.
In my younger days I was very comfortable riding road bikes on ice, but I no longer will risk broken bones that way.

Last edited by meb; 10-19-05 at 03:46 AM.
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Old 10-13-05, 11:07 PM   #2
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Commute with the cheaper one. There ya go.

I wouldn't ride my more expensive bike in the winter. No way. In fact, I'm thinking of sending it back to the factory for an extensive makeover during the winter and just ride the hell out of my beater bike until I pick it up in the late spring/early summer.

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Old 10-13-05, 11:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koffee brown
Commute with the cheaper one. There ya go.

I wouldn't ride my more expensive bike in the winter. No way. In fact, I'm thinking of sending it back to the factory for an extensive makeover during the winter and just ride the hell out of my beater bike until I pick it up in the late spring/early summer.

Koffee
Actually, my mountain bike is also a cheapie and one of the road bikes is near enough to cheapie and already relegated to a rain bike so I cheapie doesn't completely narrow it down. Beside, medical bills and time off work from the wrong choice could far excede the price of my most expensive bike. So I still need a technical rather than pocketbook basis for the snow and ice decision.
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Old 10-14-05, 01:07 AM   #4
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honestly don't know what an AWD wheelset is (All Wheel Drive??)

and i've never ridden with Electric assist...

but a mountain bike with studded tires is hard to beat for winter (that's what i use). and in VA you shouldn't have THAT much snow anyway, so ice patches are probably your biggest concern...

if you want the very best setup, i hear that a fixed-gear gives you better "feel" for the ground and traction so a fixed-gear mountain bike might be the very best (but you'd probably have to buy a new crank and rear wheel)
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Old 10-14-05, 02:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathank
honestly don't know what an AWD wheelset is (All Wheel Drive??)

and i've never ridden with Electric assist...

but a mountain bike with studded tires is hard to beat for winter (that's what i use). and in VA you shouldn't have THAT much snow anyway, so ice patches are probably your biggest concern...

if you want the very best setup, i hear that a fixed-gear gives you better "feel" for the ground and traction so a fixed-gear mountain bike might be the very best (but you'd probably have to buy a new crank and rear wheel)
Yes, AWD= All Wheel Drive, I have one of the MTB wheelsets that has a second freewheel at the rear gear connected to a speedometer cable running to the front with a rider controllable clutch at the front wheel gear. Bought it with the intent of using it for kinetic sculpture racing or as a way of driving and orienting a propellor for amphibious cycling.

I was wondering if AWD and studs complement each other or cancel the other's benefit out.


Yes ice patches are the biggest concern here, with a few days of snow blanketting and ice sprinkled in. Often the ice patches come as big surprises since I often commute late at night and things are just beginning to freeze. The first ice patch of the year often surprises me when it hits and took a fairly hard fall one night in October 2003 on a recumbent. Also, there are many shaded areas that may be retaining ice days after the main sections have melted. Three years ago after 2 days of 45 degree F weather and not a trace of snow on the Mt. Vernon Trail I ventured out onto the Washington and Old Dominion Trail with the surprise of finding the last 12 miles to Vienna of the more shaded W&OD was still 2/3 sheet ice.

Not a fixie fan myself, so I'm not going that route.

Could you elaborate as to why the mountain bike is hard to beat vs. the other options?

I do not yet have studded tires, so I am flexible in that area as to which tires to get or to to make some of my extra knobbies into studded tires.

Last edited by meb; 10-22-05 at 02:57 AM.
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Old 10-18-05, 01:47 PM   #6
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The safest solution is a trike. No chance of falling due to unseen ice. A coworker of mine rode an EZ-3 through last winter and really had not problems is the snow was not deep. However getting traction on the single drive wheel was a problem if the snow was deep.
Studded tires on a 2 wheel bike work pretty well and are usually cheaper than the trike. However it helps to have non-studded tires on a different set of wheels or a different bike for those days the roads are clear. The studs really slow you down.
I can't imagine an AWD bike would be that helpful with on street riding. The problem is not usually drive traction but trying to keep the bike upright.
So in summary my cost no object choice is a trike. The cost effective choice would be a MTB with studded tires.
Craig
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Old 10-19-05, 03:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBBaron
The safest solution is a trike. No chance of falling due to unseen ice. A coworker of mine rode an EZ-3 through last winter and really had not problems is the snow was not deep. However getting traction on the single drive wheel was a problem if the snow was deep.
Studded tires on a 2 wheel bike work pretty well and are usually cheaper than the trike. However it helps to have non-studded tires on a different set of wheels or a different bike for those days the roads are clear. The studs really slow you down.
I can't imagine an AWD bike would be that helpful with on street riding. The problem is not usually drive traction but trying to keep the bike upright.
So in summary my cost no object choice is a trike. The cost effective choice would be a MTB with studded tires.
Craig
The T&C rear end has a differential rather than single wheel drive. Certainly better on pavement, not sure if that is as strong an option on low coefficient friction surfaces since one wheel can spin if there is a split coefficient surface different under each wheel. It's a coaster brake rear, so no chance to compensate on a slipping wheel.
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Old 10-19-05, 05:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meb
Yes, AWD= All Wheel Drive, I have one of the MTB wheelsets that has a second freewheel at the rear gear connected to a speedometer cable running to the front with a rider controllable clutch at the front wheel gear. Bought it with the intent of using it for kinetic sculpture racing or as a way of driving and orienting a propellor for amphibious cycling.

I was wondering if AWD and studs complement each other or cancel the other's benefit out.
AWD: again, never actually seen a setup, but i think (also like 4WD cars) that AWB would only help in propulsion and not be much of a safety factor.
but yes, i see no reason why studded tires and AWD would not be good --- unless you need special wheels and so it's a pain to change-out wheelsets and/or tires.

Tri: i have never ridden a tricycle (as an adult) but yes, obvious stability here. not sure of the drive issues (you commented on that) but in deep snow with weight on 2 wheels the forward motion is probably worse than weight on one wheel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by meb
Could you elaborate as to why the mountain bike is hard to beat vs. the other options?

I do not yet have studded tires, so I am flexible in that area as to which tires to get or to to make some of my extra knobbies into studded tires.
mountain bike has following advantages:
1) wide choice of wide tires and studed tires and basic setup has wide rims so wide tires actually mount "wide" (i find around 2" is the best compromise for snow/ice as for snow you want a relatively wide tire that "floats" and for ice you want a narrower tire that "cuts through")
2) good/durable in snow/slush/dirty grundge
3) wide straight bars and nimble upright riding position so maximum bike handling capabilities (i.e. putting a foot down going over ice is easier on a MTB than road/cross/trekking) -- i.e. one of the top design considerations of most mountain bikes is handling and stability at all speeds (low speed on a MTB better than road/cross/trekker - just try doing a track stand and you'll see the difference!)
4) good brakes (either V-brakes or disc)
5) generally space for fenders (not mounted super-close to the tires b/c of snow build-up)
6) low gears for cranking through snow

i personally find the 1.9/2" wide MTB "semi-studs" to be the best choice for commuting as they perform reasonably well on the road at regular pressures (say 35-35 psi) so a good compromise between speed on hard surfaces and safety for ice. then for major snow/ice you let the pressure down to 15-25psi and get a bigger contact patch and more stud contact.

i put my semi-studs on for the first snow - around end of October here - and then leave on until mid-May or so.

i also own an agressive studded tire (2" wide 26" MTB tire with Major knobs and like 300 studs/tire) which is awesome on ice and snow, but it is SLOW and annoying on paved surfaces. i personally do not see a need to use mine for commuting but i do agressive winter mountain biking (e.g. i mountain bike down an ice/snow sledding/luge course where having this tire in front provides awesome traction/safety)

for commuting where safety is much more important than efficiency (and money not much of an issue), you could buy a 2nd wheel and put the agressive studded tire on that and on major ice-risk days with good ground snow coverage (so little or no paved surfaces) just change out the front wheel, but here you have the cost for an additional front hub/rim as well as an agressive studded tire which costs like $50-70!

P.S. for winter i personally recommend riding with flat pedals (or better yet BMX-style pedals with pins) and wearing warm winter hiking boots.
i have tried various winter bike shoes with clipless pedals and overshoes and whatnot and the WARMEST method is hiking shoes. the main problem is the metal cleat on the sole transports col direclty to the inside of the shoe! in winter the slightly lower efficiency from not having clipless is worth the warmth, extra security if you need to put a foot down as well as nice if the snow is too deep and you have to walk a bit.

Last edited by nathank; 10-19-05 at 05:44 AM.
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Old 10-19-05, 10:12 PM   #9
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When conditions are adverse or you can't afford mechanical trouble- Take your most reliable bike- Otherwise take your most reliable bike anyway. When your reliable bike becomes worn get a new bike. The junker is what you use when the #1 ride is being worked on. I know many think differently- Its just my opinion.
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Old 10-20-05, 03:45 PM   #10
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I'll be using my folding 26" mountain bike with studded tires (not overly studded--those Finnish 106 ones, starting in December). Folding helps when I take the Metro home since I don't ride in the dark. The 106 studded tires don't slow you down too much, but then again, I'm not a speed demon. I just don't like to go down on an ice patch.
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Old 10-20-05, 03:58 PM   #11
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I ride my expensive bike all winter.

I commute 50k a day and plan on commuting all winter. I bought it to ride, and by golly im gonna ride that sucker regardless of weather. No sense having it in the garage while i ride a beater and dream of the one i bought.

If winter causes it to wear out sooner, then good, i get to upgrade. And i'll know i dang well got my moneys worth out of it
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Old 10-20-05, 06:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koffee brown
Commute with the cheaper one. There ya go.

I wouldn't ride my more expensive bike in the winter. No way. In fact, I'm thinking of sending it back to the factory for an extensive makeover during the winter and just ride the hell out of my beater bike until I pick it up in the late spring/early summer.

Koffee

Hey Koffee!

I've heard a few people lately mention not riding their "regular" bikes in winter.
Is this because they use road salt in your area?

I'm trying to wrap my head around this because I'm figuring out what I'm going to ride this winter.
I can understand if roads are very slippery not wanting to ride something like a lightweight track or road bike - instability, possibility of clobbering the bike.
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Old 10-22-05, 02:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velogirl
I'll be using my folding 26" mountain bike with studded tires (not overly studded--those Finnish 106 ones, starting in December). Folding helps when I take the Metro home since I don't ride in the dark. The 106 studded tires don't slow you down too much, but then again, I'm not a speed demon. I just don't like to go down on an ice patch.
I usually keep bikes at work and home anyway so if I strand a bike, it's not a big deal as long as enough are running. I'm half a mile on each side of the commute from a Metro station, so folding to get the bike on the train is usually not worth while. Of course, a trike is banned at all times.

I notice the 106 studded tires have 1 ring of studs on the tread center and one ring on each side of the tread. Can you inflate them enough to just ride one ring per Nathank's tire pressure tuning, or are you still riding all three rings at high pressure?

BTW: Since you are accross the river in DC, I presume you have spent some time on the Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Park Beach Drive Trail and maybe the Little Falls Trail after snows. Do those trails hold snow for several days or do they melt off?
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Old 10-22-05, 02:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathank
AWD: again, never actually seen a setup, but i think (also like 4WD cars) that AWB would only help in propulsion and not be much of a safety factor.
but yes, i see no reason why studded tires and AWD would not be good --- unless you need special wheels and so it's a pain to change-out wheelsets and/or tires.

Tri: i have never ridden a tricycle (as an adult) but yes, obvious stability here. not sure of the drive issues (you commented on that) but in deep snow with weight on 2 wheels the forward motion is probably worse than weight on one wheel.

mountain bike has following advantages:
1) wide choice of wide tires and studed tires and basic setup has wide rims so wide tires actually mount "wide" (i find around 2" is the best compromise for snow/ice as for snow you want a relatively wide tire that "floats" and for ice you want a narrower tire that "cuts through")
2) good/durable in snow/slush/dirty grundge
3) wide straight bars and nimble upright riding position so maximum bike handling capabilities (i.e. putting a foot down going over ice is easier on a MTB than road/cross/trekking) -- i.e. one of the top design considerations of most mountain bikes is handling and stability at all speeds (low speed on a MTB better than road/cross/trekker - just try doing a track stand and you'll see the difference!)
4) good brakes (either V-brakes or disc)
5) generally space for fenders (not mounted super-close to the tires b/c of snow build-up)
6) low gears for cranking through snow

i personally find the 1.9/2" wide MTB "semi-studs" to be the best choice for commuting as they perform reasonably well on the road at regular pressures (say 35-35 psi) so a good compromise between speed on hard surfaces and safety for ice. then for major snow/ice you let the pressure down to 15-25psi and get a bigger contact patch and more stud contact.

i put my semi-studs on for the first snow - around end of October here - and then leave on until mid-May or so.

i also own an agressive studded tire (2" wide 26" MTB tire with Major knobs and like 300 studs/tire) which is awesome on ice and snow, but it is SLOW and annoying on paved surfaces. i personally do not see a need to use mine for commuting but i do agressive winter mountain biking (e.g. i mountain bike down an ice/snow sledding/luge course where having this tire in front provides awesome traction/safety)

for commuting where safety is much more important than efficiency (and money not much of an issue), you could buy a 2nd wheel and put the agressive studded tire on that and on major ice-risk days with good ground snow coverage (so little or no paved surfaces) just change out the front wheel, but here you have the cost for an additional front hub/rim as well as an agressive studded tire which costs like $50-70!

P.S. for winter i personally recommend riding with flat pedals (or better yet BMX-style pedals with pins) and wearing warm winter hiking boots.
i have tried various winter bike shoes with clipless pedals and overshoes and whatnot and the WARMEST method is hiking shoes. the main problem is the metal cleat on the sole transports col direclty to the inside of the shoe! in winter the slightly lower efficiency from not having clipless is worth the warmth, extra security if you need to put a foot down as well as nice if the snow is too deep and you have to walk a bit.
The winter temperature is modest here, typically only one dip per winter below 10 F ( -11C) so super-warm footware is not necessary here like I needed when I worked as an engineer in Flint, MI where we regularly saw –20F at night or when I was in law school in Chicago where we saw many sub 0F days. I have some extreme temp socks if absolutely necessary and some of those very hot Teny Lamas if I wanted to warm the feet. I wouldn’t want clipless cleats on the snow due slow foot planting time in the event of a tire slide. I have several sets of pedals that are clipless AND platform, so I can ride with or without cleats.

By semi-studded are you referring to the 104/106/110 stud tires or something milder?
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Old 10-24-05, 01:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by af895
Hey Koffee!

I've heard a few people lately mention not riding their "regular" bikes in winter.
Is this because they use road salt in your area?

I'm trying to wrap my head around this because I'm figuring out what I'm going to ride this winter.
I can understand if roads are very slippery not wanting to ride something like a lightweight track or road bike - instability, possibility of clobbering the bike.
The street crews in Cleveland use so much salt on the streets every time it threatens snow that the blacktop becomes white until we have a good rain to wash it off. And in Cleveland we get alot of snow, ~112" last year. That much salt and slush does some horrible damage to any unprotected metal, Aluminum included (Ti may hold up but I can't afford Ti for my good bike). So my winter bike needs to be reliable but inexpensive. If winter biking cost me a couple hundred in replacement or repairs its worth it, but destroying a $1000-$2000 bike in only a few seasons gets kind of expensive.
Thats why I run old bike converted to fixed gear. The fixed gear is more reliable and removes many of the components that get corroded. Old bikes are very good values in cost vs. quality. I don't ride cheap bikes I ride good quality inexpensive bikes.
Craig
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Old 10-24-05, 03:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meb
I usually keep bikes at work and home anyway so if I strand a bike, it's not a big deal as long as enough are running. I'm half a mile on each side of the commute from a Metro station, so folding to get the bike on the train is usually not worth while. Of course, a trike is banned at all times.

I notice the 106 studded tires have 1 ring of studs on the tread center and one ring on each side of the tread. Can you inflate them enough to just ride one ring per Nathank's tire pressure tuning, or are you still riding all three rings at high pressure?

BTW: Since you are accross the river in DC, I presume you have spent some time on the Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Park Beach Drive Trail and maybe the Little Falls Trail after snows. Do those trails hold snow for several days or do they melt off?
I have not received my studded tires yet, but there are plenty of folks on these forums who used them last year and who can answer your question. I do not spend time on the CC, RC, or LF trails. I live on the east side of town, and so use the Anacostia trails system a bit, lots of streets through DC, and the Mount Vernon Trail (I commute between Alexandria and Prince Georges Co.) The streets are generally cleared pretty quickly. The Mount Vernon Trail, and I assume other trails, are not cleared at all. They melt and freeze and are covered with ice for a large part of the winter, especially in the shady parts.
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